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UAE lawyers' salaries on the rise says study

Dubai, September 26, 2008

The lawyer salaries in the UAE, especially in the banking and financial services sector, are on the rise climbing to an average of Dh82,000 ($22,324) per month for the head of legal, according to a study.

The study was conducted by Tessera Executive Search in partnership with the Dubai Corporate Counsel Group (DCCG).

While last year’s survey results showed the real estate sector paying some of the highest salaries at non-head of legal level, this year has seen a shift to some of the highest salaries been paid in the banking and financial services, IT and Telecom sectors.

According to the survey, completed by 194 in-house lawyers from a wide range of organisations in the UAE, salaries of more than Dh130,000 to Dh150,000 per month are becoming less unusual with 20 per cent of heads of legal departments now being paid over Dh100,000 per month.

Overall, the results show that the highest paid lawyers qualified in North America, followed closely by England and Wales.

At the Head of Legal level, however, an England and Wales qualification places one at the top of the pay scale, while lawyers who qualified in the Indian subcontinent remain the lowest paid on average.

“By and large, lawyers who qualified in US or Europe, including the UK, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, are paid more than those from the Mena region or the subcontinent. This year, however, the pay gap is less marked than in 2007,” said Elizabeth Williams, senior partner and legal practice head at Tessera Executive Search.

“Western-qualified, bilingual Arabic/English lawyers are still the most sought after and command the highest salaries with packages in some cases reaching Dh244,000 per month.”

UAE employers pay for experience, showing a direct correlation between salary and the number of years since qualifying as a lawyer, known as Post Qualification Experience (PQE).

The average salary for lawyers who qualified less than four years is Dh31,000, with the highest salary reported in this range being Dh66,000 in the banking and financial services sector.

The highest salary reported for the 5-7 years PQE range is Dh94,000 per month, again in the banking and finance sector. In the 8-10 years PQE range, the highest salary reported, Dh115,000 per month, appeared in both the regional conglomerate and banking and finance sectors.

“The salary increases since last year are due in part to a significant shortage of qualified lawyers in the market and the high demand for in-house lawyers in the UAE as shown by the fact that more than 75 per cent of Heads of Department plan to recruit and expand their departments, especially in Abu Dhabi with its dramatic expansion plans,” said Justin A. Connor, the acting chairman of the DCCG.

He added that other drivers of pay increases include the increased cost of living and the depreciation of the US dollar, which reduce the value of compensation packages, putting further upward pressure on salaries.

“We expect the war for talent to continue with salaries likely to rise even further, especially for those with applicable regional experience,” he said.

Regarding job and salary satisfaction, the majority of respondents stated they are satisfied with their roles and compensation.

However, 44 per cent of them stated that they work more than 10 hours a day, which is probably why 50 per cent report their role is stressful and 30 per cent report it as very stressful, the study added.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: UAE | lawyers | salary rise | Dubai Corporate Counsel Group |

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